After two weeks of the federal government being shut down, President Donald Trump is now less popular than new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
The results came from a new Gallup poll which found that Pelosi has a favorable rating of 38% and an unfavorable rating of 48%, a gap of 10 points. However, Trump has a favorable rating is 40% compared to an unfavorable rating of 58%, a gap of 18 points.
Americans in general do not like their political leaders very much. Pelosi has been attacked for years by Republicans and right-wing media, making her a lightning rod for negativity directed toward liberals and Democrats.
So it is newsworthy that for the first time during Trump’s presidency Trump is more disliked than Pelosi by American voters.
Speaker Pelosi has become more popular since the Democrats won control of the House in November. Her net favorability rating rose in Gallup’s polling from -24 points in June to -10 points now.
It isn’t surprising that Pelosi’s favorability numbers are up because of the success of her party in the midterm elections. Most politicians get a boost in their approval ratings after winning an election. It is to be expected that a new incoming Speaker of the House would see her numbers climb as well when her party wins a big election.
We don’t know if this is just a post-election honeymoon period for Pelosi, where her numbers will fall in a few months. Her numbers could fall in the future, but they also may rise if she is successful in taking on the unpopular president and winning.
Right now Pelosi is not only the most visible Democrat but also the most powerful Democrat in the country. During coming weeks and months she will continue to be the chief foil to Donald Trump.
It’s interesting to note that the Gallup poll shows Pelosi to be increasingly popular within her own party. Her net favorability climbed 25 points among Democrats after November’s election — more than it did among independents or Republicans.
She will probably continue to be one of Trump’s main adversaries over the next year, which will keep her ratings among Democrats (and thus her overall ratings) at high levels.
Republicans proved last year that elections are not referendums on congressional leaders. They spent the entire year attacking Nancy Pelosi and it did them no good whatsoever.
Elections often are referendums on presidents, however. Donald Trump continues to have historically low approval ratings now just like he had in November when his party lost control of the House. This does not bode well for Republicans heading into the 2020 presidential election cycle.
President Harry Truman once famously said “the buck stops here,” referring to his desk in the Oval Office. Donald Trump, however, has spent his entire presidency blaming other people for things that were his own fault.
This latest shutdown is a case in point. Trump and his allies have been attempting to blame the shutdown on Pelosi and Chuck Schumer ever since it began.
Even if Trump had not promised to take the blame for the shutdown during the televised Oval Office meeting with Pelosi and Schumer, this would not work out well for the GOP.
Republicans ran thousands of adds last year, trying to make the midterms a choice between Pelosi and Trump, because polls showed at the time that Pelosi was less popular than Trump. Now that Pelosi is more popular than Trump this strategy is even less likely to be successful.
The truth is that Donald Trump is the most unpopular president in history. Every day the shutdown (that he caused) continues, his popularity will decrease even further. He has already said he doesn’t care about the federal workers who have not received paychecks during his shutdown. He continues to tell lies about the border wall, about the budget, and about Democrats.
On the other hand, during the past week the new Speaker has shown herself to be dignified and a true leader. She acts like a statesman, and has remained firm in her resolve. Everything she says in public (including her tweets) has been thought out in advance and calculated to further her goals — and the political goals of her party.
Nancy Pelosi is a formidable adversary for Donald Trump, and it is very likely that she will continue to be in charge of the House even as the Trump presidency ends in disgrace.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.